Wrestling News, Opinions, Etc. 04.06.04

Bono:  Egomaniac. – the latest A List

Well, duh.  How long did it take for you to figure that out?

The first Monday in April is truly a great day.  Official Opening Day of baseball (f*ck Japan), the day the NCAA basketball finals are played, and, most importantly, the beginning of Masters Week, all combined with Perfect Excuse Day here in North America (“I forgot to set my clock last night” is an acceptable reason for being late to work one day out of the year, and that was yesterday, so I hope you didn’t try it today).  The feeling might even extend to wrestling.  Raw has a good shot at getting a high audience because, let’s face it, no one gives a f*ck about UConn in either gender permutation except for certain fantasies involving Diana Taurasi dishing you out an assist (where appropriate, substitute Emeka Okafor for Taurasi), and the only thing I’m concerned about in Georgia doesn’t start until Thursday.  After those semi-final games, both finals were doomed to be an anti-climax anyway, kinda like the reverse of what happened with the NFL this past season.  And, as I’ve said before, I don’t really give a rat’s ass about baseball.  I grew up in a place and time that didn’t have a major league franchise:  the South Side of Chicago in the early 70s.  Maybe WWE will come through for us courtesy of some sympathetic (or simply pathetic) magic.  I’ll discuss that later, though.

It’s time for the thrill-a-minute section of this website, so let’s lurch forward…

THE PIMP SECTION

Okay, Hyatte summarized the latest update to the A List yesterday, so I don’t have to.  I just felt guilty that I didn’t catch the fact that it had been updated until after I submitted last Wednesday’s Black column.  I’d just like to inform the crew that run the place that we’ve known about Vince and Michaels for dog’s years now, so this isn’t news to the IWC.  Also, where’s the corresponding cross-entry for Michaels?  Dear God, people, you’ve got a moralistic born-again who’s wearing his religion on his merch, and you don’t bring up his coke-fiend or gay-for-push past?  Shame on you.  And stop being so goddamn condescending about wrestling, you f*cking Queer Eye refugees.  I don’t know about 5% of the people on the list (especially the younger actors); how about telling me who they are?

And, Hyatte, it’s “Friend of Dorothy”, not “Friend of David”.  The connection between “gay” and “Friend of Dorothy” is obvious if you apply a couple of brain cells and one stereotype.

Norton gets all up in Coachman’s area for a couple of statements he regards as damaging to the reputation of Heat.  Blake, I hate to tell you this, but he’s right:  nothing happens on Heat.  And the days are over of top-flight guys doing C or D shows because the commentator roles are now as stratified as the in-ring booking.  Coachman doing his thing on Raw every so often is the exception, not the rule.  This is something else that’s gone from wrestling forever that we can kick back and mourn.

As I said last Wednesday, I am very, very glad that JJ is back safe.  I know a lot better than most about what he’s been through and what he’s faced.  I’m pleased that he did his job, did it well, and came back intact, despite my deep disapproval for the reasons why he was there.  If there’s anybody who thinks that there’s bad blood between us for what happened at The Smarks, that was a long time ago and was cleared up rather quickly.  I regard him as one of my closest friends on the staff (him and my longtime tag-team partner Rob in Movies).  And he’s back and he’s okay, even if he is in that shithole in Texas…hold it, I can’t say anything about that place, because I was stationed at Camp Swampy, which is even worse.  So, welcome home and welcome back to the staff.

(By the way, JJ isn’t the only one back from Iraq.  According to the dead-tree Observer, Chilly Willy also made it home, alive but scathed enough to have received a Purple Heart.  He’ll be discharged later this year and wants to get back into wrestling full-time.)

Nute apparently delayed his April Fools’ column until this week…he’s serious?  That means that his column last week wasn’t…well, I wasn’t sure if it was serious or not.  You know as well as I do that the rest of 411 compensates for my hatred of Flex by treating him like his shit doesn’t stink.  I thought that was part of it.

Memo to <A href=”http://www.411mania.com/wrestling/tvreports/article.php?tvreports_id=1543″>Foist:  I picked up an episode of OVW via the usual method, and it looked like an indy fed from the 70s TV-broadcast-quality-wise.  I know it’s Cornette and all, but it’s hard to take it seriously.  While watching, I was honestly expecting Moose Cholak to walk out for a match.  Actually, that would have been entertaining.  I loved Moose.

For a show where nothing happens, Obal sure gets a lot of material.

Fried experiences the Joy of Rico.

Melchor chucks out a lot of music news that you need to know about, plus he pimps me.

Presiloski gets pimped because f*cking Hyatte never pimps anybody, plus he puts out some good shit, including a preview of this year’s Juno Awards.  Hey, at least they can file-share up there without anyone hassling them.

As for the rest of the Music zone…let me put it simply:  Cobain:Eric S::Elvis:Chuck D.  He was a whiny piece of shit junkie with bad hygeine and incredibly bad taste in women.  So he blew his head off with a shotgun.  So f*cking what?  If he hadn’t done “Teen Spirit”, he would have been less than nothing instead of the nothing he was.  Now shut up about it and listen to some real punk for a change, you f*cking losers.

Laflin made me download a copy of “Frontier Psychiatrist” just to see what the hell he was talking about.  That’s one weird song.

Don’t get me started on the f*cked-up origin and timeline of the Borg, Hayhurst.  I’ve already written one very long screed about that in here a year ago.  It’s not well-known, but the Q Continuum has a corollary to the maxim “Don’t provoke the Borg”, and that is “Don’t provoke Eric S about the Borg”.

Coogs glues himself to the tube for your benefit.  So write him and thank you, you ungrateful bastards.  Also, he did miss something very important when discussing The Simpsons:  that show was the one that gave Fox legitimacy as a network.  I remember when they first started out.  The thought of a “fourth network” was a joke.  When they spun The Simpsons off of The Tracey Ullman Show and it became Fox’s first true hit and then a phenomenon, the joke was over.  Fox owes it to those voice cast members for everything they’ve done for News Corp.

I WILL NOW WALLOW IN SELF-SATISFACTION

Horrid reviews.  Took in three mil less at the box office than The Rundown did its first weekend under similiar conditions.  Even Hyatte and JJ are calling it a bomb.  Oh, it feels soooooooo good to be right, as usual.  Some of you should try it sometime.

What a wonderful thing it is when you are vindicated.  Everything bad I’ve said about Flex has now come to roost on fertile ground thanks to his feeble, pathetic attempt on screen.  How exactly does one manage to disgrace memories of Joe Don Baker, for Christ’s sake?  That’s as difficult a concept to fathom as Albert wrestling a five-snowflaker.  But he did it.  Bra-f*cking-vo.

Jesus H. Fucking Christ, the damn film barely managed to out-gross Home On The Range, which was such a disaster in the making that Disney didn’t even provide its normal promo push behind it (I’ve only seen one product tie-in, and nothing from the usual suspects; shit, Burger King’s pushing f*cking Scooby-Doo like there’s no tomorrow).  Now, I’ve been saying for months that this one was going to be a turd on cel (see anything I’ve written about Disney over the past five months).  I didn’t need to say the same things about Walking Tall, because I decided to let you, the audience, automatically assume my feelings about it.  All you had to do was just change two words in anything I wrote about The Rundown before its release, and that would have covered it.  But what does it say when Roseanne got better reviews for voicing a cow than Flex did for his alleged performance?

This f*cker’s dead.  It’s going to be out of theaters in two or three weeks, and we’ll hear nothing about it until it’s released on DVD, at which time WWE will put forward another promo push that won’t help.  Sales figures on The Rundown were pretty dire, so expect this to do the same.

Now, if I can only get Ashish to stop fellating the guy with every single mention…I think I’ll have to break his fingers soon.  Either that or remove one or more vital organs.

And speaking of fellating…I waited a substantial period of time before reading Ziegler’s “exclusive interview” with Flex.  Namely, I waited enough time for a Klonopin and Prevacid to kick in.  I knew I’d have to read this one on medication.  Fortunately, Ziegler kept it content-free.  It’s a puff piece, but it’s a puff piece that might open some doors for others at 411 to take advantage of in the future, so in that respect it’s good.  But I wasn’t mentioned in it, so I don’t care.  I was actually yay close to volunteering to do this one, but there’s no way in hell that WidShish would have allowed it.  You might as well have have thrown Flex into a cage with a bunch of rabid mastiffs.

Oh, that’s enough of this.  I knew that the audience expected some words from me about this, and I endeavored to satisfy.

STILL TRYING TO FIGURE THIS ONE OUT

First of all, just a quick comment on Terri’s release.  Doesn’t it strike anyone as suspicious that she got the axe the same week that her ex-hubby was named as the plaintiff in the Flight From Hell suit?  Everyone knows that Dustin has never got over losing her (and he spent a good portion of the plane ride trying to woo her back; it’s not certain whether or not this was before or after he showed the flight attendant a little something we’ve all seen as viewers a number of times), but that the feeling wasn’t mutual.  Was WWE afraid that she might have become a hostile witness to them while still under contract?  Well, goodbye to her anyway.  I still have a soft spot in my heart for Alexandra York.

Sean O’Haire’s release…ooooh.  You know, we in the IWC have been pretty consistent about wanting good things for the guy.  He really impressed people in WCW.  I wasn’t one of them, but I can understand.  In fact, most of us had him marked down on the short list of breakthrough stars after the Merger.  He had good skills along with the size that Vince loves, and was charismatic and a decent mic worker to boot.  So what the hell happened?  Why the hell has he been cut when Matt Morgan only has to go down to OVW and John Heidenreich’s given a pass because of injury?  Was it to make room for Nick Dinsmore’s Rain Man retard hillbilly character that they debuted over the weekend in house shows*?

Oh, if it was only that simple.  We can understand WWE getting rid of Sean O’Haire to create a slot for a retard hillbilly.  After all, we came of age as fans with Hillbilly Jim, Uncle Elmer, and the Godwinns (to say nothing of hillbilly characters in other feds)**.  But getting rid O’Haire for no real reason?  This was the excuse that 1bullshit gave:

Some in WWE feel that Sean O’Haire was released because he did not show the dedication needed to become a star. Others feel he was a victim because he was paired with Roddy Piper who left the company out of the blue.

Let’s deal with the second one first.  Remember that before he debuted, O’Haire was presented in a series of compelling taped vignettes which showed a promising gimmick.  This was then blown up and forgotten about when he was teamed with Piper.  But wasn’t there any foresight regarding this?  They teamed O’Haire with Roddy Fucking Piper, who is notorious for his flightiness.  They should have known from lots of past history that he’d bolt at the first opportunity, so there should have been something waiting in the wings for O’Haire as a contingency, a contingency that they knew they’d have to employ.  But there was nothing.  WWE threw him to the wolves, put him on the B and C shows, and forgot about him.

And that leads directly to Point One.  If you were treated this way, would you show any kind of dedication?  Major build-up, the chance to leech some of Piper’s heat for a while, then nothing?  Wouldn’t that be a little discouraging to you?  And he didn’t even get half the opportunity to garner audience reaction from his initial “push” that Test and Albert did.  He was being primed for something big, something that might have gone beyond Vince’s normal six-month initial window (then back to the B show circuit) routine.  And it didn’t come off because “creative” didn’t have Plan B waiting for him, a plan that they KNEW they’d have to implement due to Piper’s nature.

But he still had a chance.  Jesus, how many of us over the last two weeks have been talking about hooking him back up with Jindrak?  Smackdown needed a forty-thousand volt jolt right in its tag division, and Buh Buh Ray’s goddamn shorts aren’t it.  We were able to see these guys improve by the week in WCW, and they had great chemistry together.  They would also have been at most a semi-known quantity to a WWE audience.  “Creative” had the opportunity to put together what would be a “new” tag team with a lot of history that could be used to explain why they work so well together, as well as a duo that could make an instant mark on the sad-ass Smackdown tag division.  They decided to pass on the chance and make Jindrak a singles competitor, and he’ll be stinking up the joint on the C shows until he’s cut too.

I hope that O’Haire’s already received a call from the Jarretts.  In TNA he could go in at the upper-mid-card level and make an instant impact.  Well, before he gets fed to Slapnuts, anyway.  He doesn’t deserve to be out of work, and shouldn’t be.

* – Okay, they gave him Regal as a manager (and it’s wonderful to have him back), but the gimmick is still a piece of shit.  It’s an insult to Dinsmore, and now it’s become an insult to Regal as well, but if anyone can get the retard thing over, it’s Regal.  I have infinite faith in his mic ability, and he’s going to need almost all of that infinity to accomplish this.

Of course, I’m not the only one to get involved in this assessment.  Quoth the Ravin’ Cajun:

And by the way, whose lemonade did William Regal piss in? First episode back, and not only does he have to recall the “Kiss My Ass Club” loveliness but he also gets saddled with managing Eugene, the re-re nephew of Eric Bischoff? Now I know the guy’s a company man- I mean hell, Austin quit because he had to lose to a newbie at the time. This guy gets ALL the bad breaks and he keeps a fricking smile on his face. Any ideas who he pissed off?

Well, he was part of the groom’s party during Trip and Steph’s wedding.  Maybe he made a drunken pass at Trip’s mother during the reception.  I can’t think of any good reason for the life of me that he’s in this position.  I know his doctors are saying he can’t wrestle yet, and he’s gold on the mic and should be involved in some way, but compared to this manager’s job, kissing Vince’s ass was like winning “Dream Job”.

* – Speaking of the Godwinns, Dennis Knight had a try-out match with WWE last week and did a run-in on his buddy UT.  Prepare for some more nakedness.

LINE OF THE MONTH

The dead-tree Observer reported some interesting behind-the-scenes stuff that came out of Jake Roberts’ recent rampage across the Sceptered Isle.  The Daily Star had reported that Jake had threatened writer Alex Shane with a bottle of whiskey in addition to whipping out some of Jake’s patented offensive verbiage (most apparent when drunk, as anyone who ever saw Heroes of Wrestling knows).  Shane reported to the tabloid that Jake had said some naughty things to him, but didn’t go into detail.  Well, Da Meltz did, and Jake’s statement is one that Hyatte’s definitely going to put in his “I’ll Have To Use This Someday” notebook:

“I was wrestling before you were born.  I spunked in your grandmother’s face, it spilled on to your mom, and that’s how you were conceived.”

Oh, that is so good.  Almost as good as wanting to draw 22 in blackjack.

AND FROM ONE COURT TO ANOTHER

This week’s litigation comes to you by way of Canada and, naturally, involves that f*cker Bret.  Goddamn, I hate talking about him.  We talk about him more often now than when he was wrestling, and that includes Montreal.  Wasting more energy typing about Bret, Bret, Bret, Bret, Bret…goddamn, where the hell’s Shannon when you need him/her/whatever?  Can’t we just slap a moratorium on Bret stories until his obituary?

Okay, so here’s the story according to this week’s dead-tree Observer:  Bret, like many wrestlers during the early 90s, took out a policy with Lloyd’s of London, the insurance megalith who used to insure anything and everything until they started doing stupid things like insuring wrestlers.  Lloyd’s insured him for US$800K in case of career-ending injury.  Well, as we all know, Bret suffered a career-ending injury, so he expected Lloyd’s to fork the cash over.

No dice, said Lloyd’s.  The policy specifically prohibited a payout for a preexisting condition.  This is something that people with medical insurance are aware of.  It’s why I’ve needed surgery on my knees for over four years now and haven’t had it (of course, I’d need to stay at a job long enough to fulfill the preexisting condition clause).  Lloyd’s said, with good reason, that Bret was a pro wrestler and had had any number of concussions which could have contributed to the one that broke the camel’s back.  But his 1998 policy, which was the one in effect at the time of his Goldberging, only specifically mentioned his knees, right wrist, and left ankle as being preexisting.  When the policy was amended in 1999, his groin and abs were added to the list (which makes me wonder if his body was breaking down rapidly at that point and he’d sold WCW a bill of goods).  Nothing about concussions.

Well, Bret got sick and tired of waiting for them to pay out, so he did what any good American would have done, despite the fact that he’s Canadian:  he filed suit on March 16th.  Bret is looking for US$964800 to cover the policy (the original 800K plus compensation for a deprecated exchange rate) plus a cool million in damages on top of it.  So now Lloyd’s has to prove that Bret was pre-concussed back in 1998 when that policy came into effect.  That means that WWE is going to have to become involved in this.  Considering the relationship between the McMahons and the Harts that has played out in courtrooms since Owen’s death, there’s a good deal of bad blood involved no matter how the two sides spin things.

If this thing goes to trial (a doubtful proposition; Lloyd’s will probably provide some settlement number and Bret will take it), we may find out a whole lot more about how much wrestlers really ignore injury in order to perform and thus to keep their position.  We know that they’re dedicated workers, and they’re terrified of being out of work, which leads to a culture in which injuries are routinely ignored.  This has led to careers being threatened as the injuries become worse due to lack of treatment, and even worse, to wrestlers deciding to play doctor on themselves, using steroids to try to promote rapid healing and some of the heaviest shit in the pharmacopeia to mask the pain.  And that’s led to death for guys like Brian Pillman, Louie Spiccoli, Crash Holly, and even Elizabeth, who wouldn’t have had the material to OD on if Luger hadn’t kept it around.  Injuries are considered weakness by many athletic endeavors, including wrestling.  If you aren’t being cut open, you’re “encouraged” to work through it (as in, turned into a pariah and branded a whiner if you dare to state that you’re injured and need some time off to heal).

The wrestling culture’s relationship with medicine is one of the dirtiest little secrets left in wrestling.  If this case goes to trial, it’s going to be blown wide open.  It’ll be interesting to see how the culture copes with it.

A STUNNING BLOW

Again from the dead-tree Observer:

WWE actually released a Trish Stratus t-shirt that had the words “Blow Me” on the front. The shirt made it to the European version of WWE ShopZone before being pulled due to complaints.

Complaints, bullshit.  Hyatte bought them out.  Well, now we know what we on the staff will be getting for Christmas gifts this year.

And speaking of blow, let’s see if Raw blows and sucks again this week…

THE SHORT FORM

Match Results:

Our Lord and Savior over Rob Conway, Non-Title Match, Thank God (Submission, Crossface):  Conway acquitted himself quite well, so there’s no complaints.  But there was one actual pleasing moment, and that’s when Johnny Nitro came out.  Man, I never thought I’d hear that music again.  I also never thought I’d be nostalgic for that music, but three years of sheer hell makes one tend to forget certain things.

I wasn’t interested in the match, but thank God the Ravin’ Cajun was inspired:

irony- i·ro·ny  (r-n, r-)
n. pl. i·ro·nies
  1..
    1.. The use of words to express something different from and often opposite to their literal meaning.
    2.. An expression or utterance marked by a deliberate contrast between apparent and intended meaning.
    3.. A literary style employing such contrasts for humorous or rhetorical effect. 
  2..
    1.. Incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs: “Hyde noted the irony of Ireland’s copying the nation she most hated” (Richard Kain).
    2.. An occurrence, result, or circumstance notable for such incongruity.
  3.. Dramatic irony.
  4.. Socratic irony.
  5.. Fans in Houston, TX chanting “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!” during a match in which both the protagonist and antagonist are Canadian, and the only citizen of the United States in the ring is the heel official.

 
Well, technically, Conway is American, but Grenier was out there too, so I guess we can go with this.

Chris Jericho over Matt Hardy (Submission, Walls of Jericho):  I can hear Keith freaking out right now about Benoit and Jericho having to jerk the curtain against glorified jobbers.  Fuck you, Scooter, you’re getting the PPV live this month.  Be happy for that.  Besides, the matches weren’t too bad.  You know, I can’t remember the last time Raw has had two consecutive matches end with submissions.  I believe it may be the first time this century that’s happened.  It just strikes me as really weird, that’s all.

Shelton Benjamin over Trip, Transition Rematch With Same Result (COR):  Ross and Lawler ruined this match.  They were harping about Hebner’s ten-counts from the very first moment that someone spent more than a couple seconds outside the ring.  They never pay attention to ref counts.  After the second time, I immediately thought to myself, “they’re going to do a COR”.  They did one last week with Tajiri, after all.  Doing one two weeks in a row shows a new dimension to the lack of ability in “creative”.  And speaking of repeats…it hit me when they went through with the COR.  I suddenly knew where they were getting their inspiration from.  They’re doing a repeat of the Chris Candido/Barry Horowitz angle.  Except that Flair looks better now than Sytch does.

Lita over, in order of elimination, My Beautiful and Beloved, Baldy Holly, Gail Kim, Nidia, Jazz, and Missus Hyatte, Number One Contender’s Battle Royal:  I won’t bitch about them cutting off the beginning of the match.  Given the nature of a women’s battle royal, it was a blessing in disguise.  I will, however, bitch about the booking.  There’s a lot of WM rematches taking place at Backlash.  There’s only one rematch that should have taken place, though.  That match was Molly versus Victoria.  There’s a big outstanding issue there that needs to be settled in a serious format.  But with this match, that option’s out of the window.  Now we have the spectre of f*cking Lita getting the women’s title again to deal with.  And I don’t want to deal with that.  And how must you feel if you’re Gail Kim?  You get pulled out of mothballs for this one match, and your elimination isn’t even shown live.  Man, that’s a pisser.

Christian over Yoshihiro Tajiri (Pinfall, Unprettier):  Total formula from both guys.  In a way, though, I like the strategy of using Coachman to get Tajiri over as a face.  Yes, the purists will say that this should be done in a ring with two guys facing each other, but Tajiri’s weak points are all from an SE standpoint.  Using Coachman ensures that he doesn’t have to carry the burden in that department, covering Tajiri’s weaknesses while allowing him to concentrate on his strengths.

Kane over Rhyno (Pinfall, chokeslam):  And the burial of Rhyno becomes official now that someone’s no-sold the Goar Goar Goar.  Yeah, it was Kane, and he no-sells everything, but Rhyno’s bad-ass image has been nuked, maybe forever.

Angle Developments:

And You Wonder Why I Pop Pills:  Trip saying “It doesn’t matter what his name is” during the opening promo…that just merged two of my prime wrestling-related nightmares together into one horrifying package.  And Benjamin needs some mic practice.  Waaaay too stilted.

The Grandmaster Class:  I don’t like the fact that Foley’s come back.  I find his reasons for doing so cynical and self-serving.  I’d prefer he stay away like he promised to.  But then he goes and cuts a promo like that…he is the greatest ever at the slow-build promo, and he demonstrated his mastery yet again.  A wonderful moment for a pretty pathetic cause.

Just A Question:  What’s the possibility of Michaels, Benoit, Foley, and Benjamin getting a stable together to combat Evolution?  And with Michaels in charge, would it be called Creationism?

Honest to God, I wrote that before Bischoff made the match for next week.

And honest to God, I’ll be back next week in this same slot, and in Black tomorrow.  Until next time I see you, I don’t want you to see me.